The IFA has reminded farmers of the importance of managing hedgerows to protect habitats today (October 4th), as part of World Habitat Day.
World Habitat Day takes place each year on the first Monday in October.
IFA environment & rural affairs chairman and Smart Farming’s Programme leader, Paul O’Brien, issued some advice to farmers.
He said that while hedgerow cutting is now permitted to the end of February, farmers should be aware that hedges provide food and shelter and habitats for wildlife and birds throughout the winter months.
“Ideally, we should do as little as possible with our hedgerows. They should be allowed to grow upwards and outwards,” he said.
“If hedges are starting to spread too far into fields, the sides can be trimmed back to keep them under control.”
“It is recommended to only cut one-third of hedges each year to benefit the environment as much as possible,” he added.
O’Brien emphasised the need for farmers to communicate with contractors about maintaining hedgerows. He said they should explain what they want to achieve from hedge-cutting.
“Farmers should speak with contractors about leaving some thorn trees uncut or doing less cutting than previous years. Farmers need to make sure their contractor knows what they want,” he said.
O’Brien said that hedgerows contribute “significantly” to biodiversity and carbon sequestration.
He encouraged farmers who are considering planting additional hedgerows to do so this winter.
“New hedges should be planted between November and March, depending on weather conditions. Planting new hedges can increase the number of full trees within the hedge and the density of the hedges.”
The hedge-cutting season opened on Wednesday, September 1st, 2021.
Landowners, farmers, and householders are being asked to ensure their roadside hedges and overhanging trees are cut and maintained so road users can travel safely.
Section 70 of the Roads Act 1993 places responsibility for maintaining roadside hedges on the owners/occupiers of the adjoining lands.